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The Grand Complication: A Novel

By Allen Kurzweil

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ISBN 10: 0786885181
368 pages

Narrated by Alexander Short, a stylish young reference librarian of arcane interests, The Grand Complication propels the reader through a card catalog of desperation and delight, of intrigue and theft. It’s a novel of suspense that comes full circle, with a clock-maker’s precision and a storyteller’s surprise, on page 360.

The account begins with Alexander’s job in jeopardy and his marriage destined for the Discard shelf. Enter the improbably named Henry James Jesson III, a bibliophile who hires the librarian for some after-hours research. The task: to render whole an incomplete cabinet of wonders chronicling the life of a mysterious eighteenth-century inventor. As the investigation heats up, Alexander realizes there are many more secrets lurking in Jesson’s cloistered world than those found inside his elegant Manhattan town house. With a notebook tethered to his jacket, Alexander plunges headlong into the search, only to discover that the void in the cabinet is rivaled by an emptiness in his heart.

A delicious compendium of quirky colleagues, erotic pop-ups, deviant passions, and miraculous examples of theft, the book is a grand and complicated “timepiece,” told with a devilish sense of fun.


“Kurzweil’s new book is a timepiece in more ways than one.” —Boston Herald

“Funny, entertaining . . . mystery whose witty wordplay and fascinating detail will tickle any reader’s brain.” —People Magazine

“It’s a wonderful mystery with its own 18th-century jeu d’esprit.” —Providence Sunday Journal

“A wonderfully inventive novel.” —USA TODAY

“Great fun and quite appealing.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Silly and smart, this is a book to make time for.” —Christian Science Monitor

“As welcoming and accessible as an Advent calendar, offering its prizes to anyone who cares to pry open the tabs.” —Newsday

“The is a delightfully intricate jewel box of a novel, and it works on multiple levels.” —Booklist

“Recommended for all literature collections.” —Library Journal

“Kurzweil delivers a remarkable novel — a flawless blend of adventure, intellect, suspense, humor and antiquity.” —Publishers Weekly

“A charming energy floods the novel, and Kurzweil neatly pulls off the author’s trick of entertaining even as he educates.” —Bookpage

“I admire this ingenious, erudite book, which will enthrall all lovers of books and of libraries. And how nice to read something so wonderfully irreverent about that Sacred Cow, sex.” –Doris Lessing on The Grand Complication

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Buy the Book

The Grand Complication: A Novel